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Marquette Women's Basketball Weekend Preview: vs DePaul & vs Butler

The Golden Eagles get back at it this weekend with two home games against their two closest conference rivals.

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

The Golden Eagles come in to the second weekend of conference play with a 4-10 record overall and they find themselves winless in three tries in Big East games.  MU had chances to win against both Xavier and Georgetown, but got completely bombed out of the building by Villanova's three point shooting in their last contest.

Things don't get particularly easier at home this weekend.  First up tonight is a DePaul squad that doesn't have the best record in the world, but they're still the preseason favorites to win the conference, and a number of those losses are to tip top competition.  Then, on Sunday afternoon, Marquette welcomes a Butler squad to the McGuire Center that's 6-3 in their last nine games, including conference wins over Creighton and Providence.  I won't be surprised to see Marquette play competitive games against both of these squads, but I have to say I don't have a great feeling about this pair of contests.

I knew this was going to be a rough season for first year head coach Carolyn Kieger.  It's been rougher than I would have expected, but that was bound to happen with the specific roster construction.  Marquette's success over the remainder of the season is going to be dependent on the development of three of the four freshman on the team: Kenisha Bell, Tia Elbert, and Shantelle Valentine.  Bell looks like she's most of the way there as a legitimate Division 1 guard, albeit one that's still a freshman and prone to mistakes.  Elbert has been fine, I suppose, but on occasion largely unnoticeable.  Valentine has had flashes of excitement, and seems to be earning a little bit more of Kieger's trust as the season develops.  MU will welcome a bunch of highly talented freshmen next year, and at that point, they will need Bell, Elbert, and Valentine ready to lead the way into the future.

Big East Game #4: vs DePaul (10-5, 2-1 Big East)

When: Friday, January 9, 2015, at 7pm Central
Where: Al McGuire Center
Audio/Visual: The Big East Digital Network's got the video broadcast, and live stats are here.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB

On Tuesday, DePaul announced that Megan Rogowski would miss the remainder of the season with a torn ACL.  The senior guard suffered the injury in last Friday's overtime loss to Villanova.  Rogowski had started all 14 games up to that point for the Blue Demons while averaging 12.6 points per game.  She was shooting over 42% behind the three point line this season, the clear leader for DePaul in that department and the fourth best shooter in the Big East.

Now, I don't know if I would have ranked Rogowski in my top three most important players on this Blue Demons squad.  Brittany Hrynko is clearly the top of the chart, and I think I would have gone with Megan Podkowa and Chanise Jenkins in front of Rogowski.  But she's still a key component in what they do because of her accuracy behind the arc, as it allows space for everyone else to operate.  The Blue Demons obviously struggled a little bit without her against Villanova, since they lost, but they easily handled their business against Georgetown on Sunday in a 105-85 win.

Now they've had five days to realign things without Rogowski in the lineup.  We'll see how head coach Doug Bruno adjusts.  He didn't get his name on the court at Phillips-McGrath Arena on a lark, though.  The Blue Demons were the preseason favorite in the Big East and the loss to Villanova cost them their spot in the AP Top 25 as well as a tie atop the table with St. John's.  The Blue Demons will no doubt be focused and ready to stay within striking distance of the Red Storm.

Big East Game #5: vs Butler (6-9, 2-2 Big East)

When: Sunday, January 11, 2015 at 2pm Central
Where: Al McGuire Center
Audio/Visual: Free streaming video via GoMarquette.com, plus live stats.
Special Promotions: Dollar Day! General admission, soda, and hot dogs for just $1!
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB

The Belle Obert Era of Butler women's basketball continues to be successful.  The Bulldogs opened up the season 0-6, but since Obert's time with the women's volleyball team ended and she joined the active women's basketball roster, they're 6-5, and 6-4 when she starts.  Her scoring is way down, as Obert hasn't broken into double digits in the last five contests, but it's working out for the team anyway, as they're 4-1 in those games.

The Bulldogs have three players averaging in double digits in points, led by 16.4 per game from sophomore guard Loryn Goodwin.  Senior forward Ijeoma Uchendu is the only player in the Big East averaging a double-double, as she's recording 11.3 points and 10.1 points per game.  That's a potential confluence of skills that could cause problems for the Golden Eagles.

While Uchendu is a great rebounder, the rest of her team is not.  They don't get to very many offensive rebounds (only 23%) and they let their opponents get to way more than that, too (31%).  In the shooting department, Butler's not a great shooting team (45% eFG%), but Marquette is going to have to keep an eye out for freshman guard Sydney Buck.  She tries seven three pointers a game, and she's hitting on over 36% of those attempts.  Blaire Langlois likes firing away from downtown almost as much as Buck, but she's not quite effective, splashing 33.7% of her attempts.